The study included 710 patients presenting for emergency care with acute ischemic strokes at 12 centers in six states. Patients presenting for care during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic presented for treatment 160 minutes later than during the same time period in 2019.
The authors also observed a drastic decrease in the number of patients who presented for treatment between February and March of this year. In March, 167 stroke patients presented for care, compared with 223 patients just one month prior.
The findings confirmed the suspicion that patients with stroke had been avoiding or delaying care, including a reported 40% drop in stroke scans. The delays are impacting the survival and recovery of patients, according to stroke surgeons from the Society of NeuroInterventional Surgery.
"My colleagues and I have been devastated to see patients arriving at the hospital too late for us to help them," stated lead study author Dr. Clemens Schirmer, a neurosurgeon at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, PA, in a press release. "Our findings indicate a dire need for public education to address COVID-19-related fears to ensure people with stroke symptoms seek the lifesaving care they need without delay."
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